But beyond that, there are some creative choices and add-on gear to enhance your ability to create such black and white images. Geometric shapes and patterns are especially eye-catching in an abstract image. By stripping color away from the scene, you are more apt to see it as an abstract piece of art, rather than merely picture and black and white portraits allow you to focus more on the mood and emotion of the shot than a color photograph.
The Leica M Monochrom is a rangefinder-style digital camera and a true black-and-white shooter. Released in 2012, it’s beloved by most serious photographers, but it’s also known for being quite difficult to use. It doesn’t have autofocus, so you’ll have to adjust the lens’s focus ring — any of Leica’s M-Series of lenses are compatible with the M Monochrom — to capture in-focus photos. Aperture is also controlled by the lens. It doesn’t have great bursting or video shooting (up to 1080p) abilities, either. And it lacks wi-fi, GPS, and NFC, which are all common features on today’s digital cameras. However, the M Monochrom has a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor and flexible ISO (320-25600) and can capture stunningly crisp black-and-white photos. For expert photographers who aren’t scared away by this Leica’s price tag, this is the best monochrome camera you can buy.
“Tonal range” shows how good the image is recorded, how many tones are in it. As the B&W image has no color, all these tones compose the picture.
Remember, adding small details can add up to the big drama of black and white photography. It could mean a slight darkening of a huge background or maybe adding up touches to a dull brickyard,
The dynamic range of some best B&W films is about 13 EV. Same as the digital and the human eye. While the “tonal range” is much better, I think. I haven’t found any data on the Internet how many tones produce an analog film. That observation is from my own experience. I have noticed that analog B&W image is richer than a digital one. I mean there are more tones, skin tone is more accurate, it is just more . Besides an analog B&W film frame (36x25mm) has higher image resolution—140 Mpix in average. (alfa-and-omega.com)
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A monochrome (or black-and-white) photo can be nostalgic, timeless, beautiful and these days there are a few ways to capture one. Many digital cameras have monochrome modes. You can also edit photos with programs like Photoshop and Lightroom, or by using a RAW converter, that turn your color photo into a monochrome photo. For the best monochrome photos, however, you really want a camera that doesn’t collect color information at all, and they’re a decidedly rare breed.
Remarks: dynamic range tests were taken at specific criteria just to compare cameras. Max. DR of digital cameras is between 13–14 EV. Dynamic range decreases with ISO value.
However, if you would like to shoot only in B&W, you need to consider (strongly)
What makes a monochrome camera better? Most conventional digital cameras have color filters laid over its sensor that capture a full-color image — this process is called demosaicing — but these filters also interfere with the sensor’s ability to capture the full spectrum of available light. This means that even though a digital camera’s monochrome mode can do a good job, it’s not going to be able to reach the same black and white levels of a monochrome camera. The advantage of using a conventional digital camera when shooting in monochrome mode, on the flip side, is you can turn black-and-white RAW photos into colored photos after they’ve been taken.
“Tonal range”: Pentax K-1—478 tones—8.9 bit, Nikon D810—9.2 bit, Canon 5Ds R—8.5 bit, Sony A7R II—9 bit
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It’s an uninformed question. Black & white is the medium, not the devise. A camera doesn’t care if its color or black & white, but the medium does. Digital is set up to shoot color: the medium is a memory card, recorded by a gathering sensor. its up to the vision of the shooter or editor/client to decide what output is the desired finish. Used to be all film was black & white regardless of what camera exposed it. With the advent of color they introduced new film emulations of color that went into the same camera as the black & white was in. Now the deserning photographer may like the contrast of one lens manufacturer over another but that is highly subjective and part of the formula that a shooter employs in his combination of camera, lighting, exposure & finishing.
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Phase One’s IQ3 100MP Achromatic is a digital back that allows any IQ3 XF medium-format camera to shoot black-and-white-only photos. Announced in 2017, the digital back has a brand new 101-megapixel CMOS sensor with a max ISO of 51,200, making it that most light sensitive medium format digital back that you can currently purchase. It also has an electronic shutter button, built-in wifi and can capture up to 60-minute long exposures. This camera back is really designed for photographers looking to take super high-resolution photos of architecture and landscapes. At at $50,000 for the back alone, they probably need to be serious photographers.
Having in mind these features I have looked at some tests at optyczne.pl
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For me, black and white photography is light, shadows of people and objects, and contrast. So dynamic range is crucial to achieving best results. Writing dynamic range I mean not only range of exposure from black to white of photographed scene. I also mean “tonal range”—how many tones the camera is recording, so the image is smooth from black to white. (I don’t know if the “tonal range” is a proper English photographic term—any comments?)
The best? Probably the Leica Monochrom full frame digital if you want to go digital.
If you want to go all the way, a large format camera is a good choice. With a single sheet of film rather than a roll, you can do a lot of manipulation to the film during development. I’d suggest that you look for Ansel Adams books. One book covers cameras and others cover film and printers.
Contrast is a defining factor – as the absence of it makes the composition dull while a big contrast spoils the effect and is never encouraged. To achieve a dramatic effect, look at the elements first and train the lens on the deep blacks that can grab attention to the focal point in any imagery.
Make the blacks darker – is to make the lights appear brighter and make the central element to microburst and really pop. This is an artistic rendition and is a favorite trick used by most photography enthusiasts.
Create drama – is achieved by using vanishing lines as in a perspective to project a visually powerful image. Picking out a lonely rural road for instance with rows of lamp posts interplayed with lines of trees along the length, lends credence to an Architectural imagery and creates heightened drama in black and white.
Clean black and clean white – should capture and finish a photo to do away with a muddy image. An image in mono is a bunch of grays, when a clean black and clean white is added like simple twig or a roof will be enough to compensate and achieve balance of character.
See and think black and white – is tougher to tinker with because of the color world around. It stands to reason that imagining and capturing an image in black and white is a long shot because of the influence of color around.
Filters makes a lot of difference to a photo, as it allows part of images to darken to increase the overall drama within the composition. This is done in purpose to increase the mysterious effect of the imagery towards the viewer.
Software and apps help – to achieve the magic of a black and white photo. There are apps in the web that allow enthusiasts to play with black and white photography to reach the desired end.
To make the most entertaining black and white photographs, some tips as mentioned below needs to be part of the final images:
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Otherwise, a Hasselblad or Mamiya film camera, both are medium format and produce great results with the right film.
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It depends on your goal.Here’s the thing, a huge part of B&W is about the print. In fact, it’s close to being all about the print. You want to be able to pre-visualize the eventual tonality placed on paper the moment you press the shutter release.
You need to know the techniques, in particular, the tools used to map hue to tone. Much of this is done in the digital darkroom. So, the best B&W camera is a modern, full color, large sensor, high dynamic range digital camera.
This enables you to, for example, color filter in post, in fact, to color filter different parts of the scene.However, if your want to shoot on B&W film, I’d recommend going medium format, i.e., 120 roll film.
It’s a good trade-off between cost, convenience, flexibility, and the amount of enlargement necessary.I’m partial to the Mamiya RB-67 series (got two bodies myself.) It’s a good value, and I like the 6×7 aspect ratio.
So, good dynamic range give us the possibility to shoot high contrast scenes, like against light, there both shadows and highlights have right exposure.
Black and white photography will remain a powerful medium as images are shrouded in mystery and needs to be taken in context to understand, feel and appreciate the message it carries.
For those who don’t want to spend as much on a monochrome-only digital camera, there’s the third-party company LDP LLC (MaxMax.com), who sells modified versions of the Fuji X100S-M and Fuji X-Pro1-M. They convert Fuji’s X-Trans color sensor cameras to monochrome by removing the color filter array, and, according to MaxMax.com, they perform very well: “Fuji monochrome cameras can compare quite favorably to the Leica M but with higher performance in many respects and with a much lower price.” You can currently purchase the Fuji X-Pro1-M for $2,425 and the Fuji X100S-M for $2,600.
Considering shooting only B&W, I would say that analog cameras are still best (photographic film). Of course, it is not more comfortable or cheaper. For editing, we need to digitalize films, and to retain film quality we need high-quality scans which are quite expensive and time-consuming.
As regarding the gear, an ideal way to create better contrast is by using a polarizing filter. Using a polarizer with your smartphone requires that you utilize an add-on lens as well, which is a smart choice if you want the highest optical quality: Essential Tips for Black and White Mobile Photography
Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for a more affordable option, we suggest looking into the Sigma dp3 Quattro ($899+). It’s not a true monochrome camera, as its Foveon Quattro sensor can still capture color, but the sensor doesn’t use traditional light filters and it instead derives colors without demosaicing, resulting in more accurate monochrome photos.
(You can read more about the technology, here.) All Sigma’s new dp1, dp2 and dp3 Quattro compacts have a Foveon sensor.
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The reason could only be attributed to color being easy to pull the attention of the viewer around. Black and white photography is much tougher because it requires excellent rendition of lighting to achieve a similar effect. Imagine, projecting grief, death, love, hate, jealousy and mystery is not easy to pull through with monochrome, but is child’s play using color. It takes the interplay of shades and shadows to achieve a desired effect on the viewer.
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Taking excellent black and white images is simply a matter of following a few crucial guidelines. Lighting, like for any type of image, is of the utmost importance.
Dynamic range at ISO 100 (SNR=2): Pentax K-1–9.7 EV, Nikon D810—10.2 EV (ISO 64), Canon 5Ds R—8.5 EV, Sony A7R II—8.4 EV
“Tonal range” at ISO 100: Pentax KP—409 tones—8.7 bit, Nikon D7200—8.7 bit, Canon 80D—8.5 bit, Sony A77 II—8.8 bit
These data show that FF cameras give better results than APS-C, and Nikon is the best. Although, differences are small.
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Any camera will do. Do you know the famous Ansel Adams quote “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”? You have to know that in B&W photography, just like in colour photography, there are 2 phases: 1.
The phase in which you take the photograph. In this phase things like composition, aperture and proper exposure are key. This is the phase when you take the photograph.2. The phase of post processing.
This can be done either in the conventional dark room or in the digital darkroom. This is the phase in which you create the photograph with the photograph you took.Ansel Adams said those famous words because he wanted to emphasize that the phase of processing the photo is the phase where a good B&W photograph can become an exceptional B&W photograph.
Good B&W photography means giving equal and proper attention to both phases, to the ‘taking part’ and the ‘creating part’. A great B&W photographer can take (and create) better B&W photos with a simple point and shoot than a mediocre photographer with a 50K PhaseOne or Hasselblad.
It’s like asking ‘what brush and canvas are the best to create beautiful paintings’? Any will do, it depends on the artist.
Edit 2: I have found an extensive article about photographic film resolution. No conclusions yet. http://cool.conservation-us.org/…
I say a view camera.. black and white photography is all about form, texture and light. A view camera with its ground glass back (which is bigger and sharper than any LCD) let you really focus on those elements in the field.
The image is actually inverted in the back… but that actually helps I’m told… because it lets you focus on the lines and texture and less about the literal subject of your photo (like when you take a photo of a tree.
.. it’s more important to think of the lines and textures that the trees creates in the image than the fact that it is a tree… inverting the image helps give you that abstraction to focus on what is important).
Here are some portfolios of a Chris Honeysett, a pro photographer I know who makes my favorite black and white images. He’s been using a view camera for 25 years for his professional work.The Luminous Land – FormThe Luminous Land – Architecture The Luminous Land – LandscapeThe Luminous Land – Trees
Monochrome photography is a bit different than traditional photography — things like light, shadows, shapes and textures play much more prominent roles. (Since most photographers see in color… this adds another level of difficulty.) But for those who really have a passion for monochrome photography, and they want to take the best quality photo, they should really look into a dedicated monochrome camera. Be forewarned, there aren’t many options and they are all pretty expensive.
Edit 1: after the discussion (see below) about the b&w film resolution, it turns out that the calculation with the result of 140 Mpix has incorrect assuming. So, the value is too optimistic, and for now, I cannot say what the resolution of the b&w film is. Any comments are welcome.
Dynamic range at ISO 100 (SNR=2): Pentax KP—9.3 EV, Nikon D7200—9.4 EV, Canon 80D—9.1 EV, Sony A77 II—8.9 EV
Black and white photographic film offers still high-quality image, in some cases better than digital.